If it wasn't for his troublesome left knee, Ledley King would be a World Cup certainty. As it stands, Fabio Capello faces a tough decision.
King's performance against Manchester United gave a timely reminder of his talents. Even his manager, Harry Redknapp, maintains he could handle the gruelling run of fixtures in the summer - if treated correctly.
King has a specialist training schedule that allows his knee to recover from the previous game, and he is limited to playing one match a week. It's not the ideal makeup for an England defender facing a major tournament, but can England afford to overlook him?
With John Terry's form still unstable and Rio Ferdinand still short of match fitness, Capello's favoured defensive duo is creaking. King has actually started more games in the Premier League this season than Ferdinand.
If England make it the World Cup final, they will play seven times in South Africa. After the opening group fixture against USA, the squad have five days recovery before they face Algeria. Five days later they will face Slovenia. Should they win their group they have only a 48 hour rest before the next match. Five days would pass before the quarter final. If they progess it's another five days until they would play the semi-final and then the last game is four days later.
Given the fact the Spurs medical team only recommend him playing once a week, he would only miss three games if they applied that rule. If they allowed him to play more reguarly but without too much pressure, he could potentially play five games.
Assuming Ferdinand and Terry are both fit, they will surely start. As a substitute who may feature in only a handful of games, King would be the perfect candidate.
The danger for Capello is that he takes both King and Ferdinand and they pick up injuries, which will then result in his side playing with only two fit centre-backs for the remainder of the tournament. The solution to this could be to take his team-mate Michael Dawson, but his inexperience at international level could count against him.
Capello only needs to look at the performances of Ireland's Paul McGrath, who had similar knee issues, to realise King could be an important part of England's defence this summer.
McGrath's heroics against Italy at USA 94 was hailed as one of the best performances at a World Cup. Judging by the performances King has produced over the years, it would be not be a surprise if we saw something similar.
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